Sunday, November 16, 2014

Book Review: What The Lady Wants

What the Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded AgeAuthor: Renee Rosen
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: NAL Trade

In late-nineteenth-century Chicago, visionary retail tycoon Marshall Field made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous motto: “Give the lady what she wants.” His legendary charm also won the heart of socialite Delia Spencer and led to an infamous love affair. 
The night of the Great Fire, as seventeen-year-old Delia watches the flames rise and consume what was the pioneer town of Chicago, she can’t imagine how much her life, her city, and her whole world are about to change. Nor can she guess that the agent of that change will not simply be the fire, but more so the man she meets that night.…

Leading the way in rebuilding after the fire, Marshall Field reopens his well-known dry goods store and transforms it into something the world has never seen before: a glamorous palace of a department store. He and his powerhouse coterie—including Potter Palmer and George Pullman—usher in the age of robber barons, the American royalty of their generation.
But behind the opulence, their private lives are riddled with scandal and heartbreak. Delia and Marshall first turn to each other out of loneliness, but as their love deepens, they will stand together despite disgrace and ostracism, through an age of devastation and opportunity, when an adolescent Chicago is transformed into the gleaming White City of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893.

“Because I saw promise in Chicago. I knew this swampland in the middle of the country was going to be the key to prosperity. This city has waterways and railroads, and we’re smack in the center of everything. I knew if anything worthwhile was going to happen in this country, it was going to have to go through Chicago.”

She supposed she fell in love with him at the same time the rest of Chicago did.

Though she recalled that the night they met, Bertha said he was thirty-seven, twenty years her senior – Delia Spencer recognized that there was something rare, something extraordinary about Marshall Field.

Renee Rosen caught my interest with her book Dollface, so naturally I was besides my waiting for this book to finally release. She has quickly made her way on my list of favorite authors, and with her stunning historical fiction novels full of interesting and intriguing characters, there is no question as to why she is definitely an author to watch. This story features Marshall Fields, the famous department store owner of Chicago, and his mistress, Delia. Despite the fact that Marsh and Delia are having an affair, I found myself rooting for their relationship because of the harsh marriages that they were both in otherwise. This story is full of thrilling characters, other than Marshall and Delia, and truly paints a wonderful story of what was essentially the development of the modern day department store after the Great Fire of Chicago.

The story spans years and years of Delia’s life, but never gets dull or boring. Rosen has meaning and purpose behind every chapter, page, and word she included in this novel. The story, time period, and drama are all so compelling, and even though the story is full of so many different people, places, and events, it is extremely fast-paced and easy to read. Renee Rosen has earned a place atop my favorite’s shelf and I will, from this point on, anxiously await all of her upcoming releases. The Great Fire of Chicago has always been an event that has sparked my interest, and Rosen made it come alive unlike any author I have ever read ever has before. I highly suggest cuddling up with a copy of this book this November!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at NAL Trade in exchange for my honest review***

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